Ask Alabama poll shows state’s residents have mixed views on the economy

AUBURN – Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services has released statewide polling results showing that many Alabama residents are suffering through this recession.

* 42 percent describe themselves as “struggling to make ends meet;”

* 47 percent say they are financially worse off today than a year ago;

* 19 percent of the state’s residents holding home mortgages worry that they will fall behind on their payments;

* 56 percent see interest rates for borrowers rising during the next 12 months; and

* 59 percent see more unemployment coming during the next 12 months.

– Contrasted with these downbeat opinions, however, are signs of hope for the state’s economy:

* 55 percent of the state’s residents say they’ll be better off financially a year from now. Nationally, less than one-third of Americans asked an identical question by the University of Michigan in June said their finances will be better off next year.

* 58 percent say they are either “living comfortably (52 percent) or doing “better than ever” (5 percent) in this recession.

*54 percent expect Alabama to come out of the recession at least as fast as the rest of the country.

“Alabama residents are riding out the economic storm and a little brightness couldn’t have come at a better time,” said the Center for Governmental Services Director, Don-Terry Veal. “It’s especially important that Alabama is ahead of the nation in optimism. Our consumers’ hopeful views about the recession waning during the next year are crucial to local governments. If shoppers stay in the marketplace and homeowners hold onto their property, local governments will take in the tax revenues they need to keep providing vital services to Alabama residents.”

The Ask Alabama survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted July 6-19 with a stratified random sample of 639 adult householders. The sample’s geographic, gender, race and age distributions were weighted to be proportionate to the U.S. Census Bureau’s data for Alabama’s adult (18 years of age or older) householders.

Patrick Rose, manager of the center’s Survey Research Laboratory that conducted the interviews, said that poll results based on the full statewide sample have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The Ask Alabama Poll will be conducted quarterly by the Center for Governmental Services, a unit of Auburn University Outreach that provides research, consulting and training to government agencies, not-for- profit associations and private sector clients.

Topics in upcoming releases from the current poll include:

* Manufacturing. Alabama residents see manufacturing leading the recovery; many think it’s a good time to buy an Alabama-made car.

* Hunger. Hunger is an issue; many residents see Alabama families skipping meals to cope with economy.

* News media. Internet is a growing news source in Alabama; threatens to overtake newspapers.

* State image. Alabama is seen as a friendly place to raise a family or retire; but don’t consider starting a business or looking for a job.

* Jobs. Better pay and benefits top of list of what Alabama job seekers want.

* Schools. Sixty percent of Alabama residents give their local public schools a grade of A or B; ratings top national figures from Gallup.

For more information on the Center for Governmental Services and for additional information about the polling process, including graphic representations, go to http://www.askalabama.org.

Contact: Don-Terry Veal, (334) 844-4781 (vealdon@auburn.edu), or
David Hill, (334) 844-4867 (david.hill@auburn.edu)